The flimsy evidence provided by the Culture Secretary over funding for T in the Park has left MSPs on the Holyrood Culture Committee feeling thoroughly frustrated.
Not a single one of the substantive questions on the issue was answered by the Cabinet Secretary for Culture. Her stonewalling follows the release of more than 600 pages of heavily redacted documents hours before she came to committee. It would have left too little time for proper scrutiny had there been any real detail left to scrutinise.
We’re no closer to an answer on why DF Concerts – the organisers of T in the Park - received £150,000 in state aid, what the money was used for and whether any of it went to the former SNP aide who set up the company’s initial meeting with the Cabinet Secretary.
Festivals – including T in the Park – are a vital part of our cultural scene and can provide a valuable boost to the economy. But there are real questions over why a company that is hugely profitable needed this cash boost and why the title sponsor, who you would have thought had a vested interest in the continued success of T, was not willing to cover any additional costs. We don’t even know whether the company even approached them before asking SNP Ministers for money.
The initial briefing note provided to the Cabinet Secretary by a former SNP aide asked for money to help cover the costs of infrastructure at the new site. But the final cash grant was ring-fenced for venue hire and consultant costs.
The company asked for money for one purpose and received it for a wholly different purpose.
What’s more, the cash was transferred to the company after T had already taken place. If you think that this smells a little bit funny you are not alone.
If public money is going to be used to support private events, taxpayers deserve transparency, so they know that their tax money is being spent efficiently.
The SNP’s behaviour over this affair has been highly secretive and verges on showing contempt for the Parliament and the voters, both of whom deserve clarity.
Parliament and the public need answers over why this cash was necessary, what checks were in place and what role former top SNP aide Jennifer Dempsie played in proceedings.
After the evidence session this week it’s clear that these aren’t going to be easily extracted from the SNP.